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From the Washington Blade:
Baptist universities spurn gay students, alum
Denomination splits with Mercer; Baylor fires gay board member
By ANDREW KEEGAN and ERIC ERVIN
Friday, November 18, 2005
ATLANTA — A gay student group’s celebration of “Coming Out Day” at Mercer University was apparently the last straw for the Georgia Baptist Convention, which voted Nov. 15 to sever ties with the school after years of discontent with campus administrators.
Meanwhile, tensions over gay issues at another Baptist school have resulted in Baylor University removing a gay alumnus from an advisory board position.
The Mercer split, which would be finalized in a second vote by the convention next year at its meeting in Duluth, means the school would lose some $3.5 million in funding from the religious organization.
Robert White, executive director of the Georgia Baptist Convention, recently aired his opposition to the gay Mercer Triangle Symposium, after reading about it in the school newspaper, according to the Baptist Press.
The organization for gay students sponsored a National Coming Out Day event on Oct. 11 and publicized it in the Cluster, the campus newspaper. The newspaper also published the names of 29 faculty and staff who supported the organization and its goals.
White told the Baptist Press he received calls from parents around Georgia who were concerned about their children’s education at Mercer.
“The thing that concerns me most deeply is the disregard for the physical, mental and emotional well-being of the students,” White told the Baptist Press in a story published Nov. 9. “If there was no spiritual reason whatsoever to discourage homosexuality, certainly the blight of AIDS should be adequate to surmise.”
“Add to the physical concerns the emotional crisis this creates for our families, to say nothing of the spiritual result of choosing to live a life of unrepentant sin, and the results can be devastating,” he added.
The Mercer Triangle Symposium disbanded Nov. 14 in the wake of the controversy. Beth Sherouse, a student who headed the organization, could not be reached for comment.